Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ukraine situation Updates June 21 , 2014 -- Russia launches Snap Drill in its Central Region as the Ukraine unilateral ceasefire is panned by Russia and the Ukraine Opposition .......Donetsk Republic seeks recognition from fourteen countries including Russia and China ....... US rolls out more unilateral sanctions ( against leaders of Luhansk and Donetsk Republics ) .....Russia puts foot down regarding any further discounts for Ukraine in ongoing natural gas dispute..... Turkey may upset applecart if it allows south Stream pipeline to run through Turkey ( Turkey like Israel does play both sides against the middle ! )

​Poroshenko warns of ‘detailed Plan B’ if Ukraine ceasefire fails

Published time: June 22, 2014 03:43
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko walks at the military camp near the town of Svyatogorsk in Eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014. (Reuters)
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko walks at the military camp near the town of Svyatogorsk in Eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2014. (Reuters)
If his current proposal for a truce, which came into force on Friday, fails to bring results, Ukraine’s newly elected president Petro Poroshenko warns he has an alternative “detailed plan” of regaining control over south-eastern Ukraine.
“Peaceful scenario – it is our plan A,” Poroshenko said in a statement on his website. “But those who expect to use the peace talks only to gain time to regroup, should know that we have a detailed plan B. I am not going to talk about it now, because I believe that our peace plan will work.”
The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine took effect on June 20 and will last until June 27, the day Kiev plans to sign the EU Association agreement.
However, “the military will be given the right to return fire if Ukrainian army units or peaceful civilians are attacked,” Poroshenko said in his decree. Since then, the tensions have slightly eased in some areas, but the Ukrainian army is still using artillery and the air force in sporadic clashes with anti-Kiev militias.
Poroshenko claims the ceasefire is designed to enable local self-defence militias to lay down their arms and flee the country, or be destroyed. He also, while drafting the plan with Kiev-appointed governors of the defiant regions, rejected any possibility of negotiations with representatives of anti-Kiev forces.
While welcoming Kiev’s ceasefire efforts, the Russian president said the current peace plan on the table “should not take the form of an ultimatum to militia groups,” according to the Kremlinstatement. It’s not enough to just put hostilities on pause, but vital to immediately start“constructive negotiations” to reach a viable compromise between the parties to the conflict.
View image on Twitter
When an army doesn't follow orders to cease fire, somewhere in a president becomes very sad.
Itar Tass....

Putin urges dialogue between all parties to Ukraine conflict

 June 22, 15:29 UTC+4
"“The truce should result in dialogue between all conflicting sides", president said
© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov
MOSCOW, June 22, 14:35 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday urged dialogue between all parties to the Ukrainian conflict.
“The truce should result in dialogue between all conflicting sides so that a compromise acceptable to everyone could be found and people residing in Ukraine’s Southeast feel that they are an integral part of the country, possess all rights of citizens of the state and these rights are among other things guaranteed by the country’s fundamental law - the Constitution,” Putin said after laying a wreath to the Eternal Flame of the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb in Moscow’s Alexandrovsky Garden next to the Kremlin walls.
On June 22, Russia marks the Memory and Sorrow Day. It was established under a presidential decree of June 8, 1996 to mark the anniversary of the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union - the beginning of what once would be called the Great Patriotic War.
A Kiev-led punitive operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine's Southeast that Kiev calls an antiterrorism operation involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. It has already claimed hundreds of lives, including civilian, left buildings destroyed and damaged and forced tens of thousands to flee Ukraine to Russia.
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko announced a ceasefire in Ukraine’s embattled Southeast from 22:00 local time (23:00 Moscow Time, or 19:00 GMT) on Friday, June 20, until 10:00 local time on June 27.
On Friday, Poroshenko, during his first working trip to the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk Region, presented a peace plan to settle the situation in Ukraine’s troubled East.
But Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said Saturday that the ceasefire does not work.
“Despite yesterday’s statement by the Ukrainian president on a ceasefire on the part of the Ukrainian army from June 20 to 27, artillery fire and aviation strikes against [the city of] Slavyansk resumed in the morning of June 21,” Borodai told Itar-Tass.
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which border on Russia, held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. South Ossetia recognized the independence of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) on June 18. No other countries have followed suit yet.

Russia Puts Troops In Central Region On Combat-Ready Alert After Launch Of Massive Surprise Drill - Video

Tyler Durden's picture

So much for the Ukraine ultimatum.
As we reported yesterday, at the same time as Ukraine president Poroshenko implemented a unilateral "ceasefire" proposal which was said to have been accepted by Russia only for Russia to roundly dismiss it saying it sees the Ukraine step an "ultimatum", alleged Ukraine gunmen shelled a border crossing on Russian territory near the town of Rostov.
What, however, made clear that no Ukraine civil war de-escalation is coming, especially not on Kiev's terms, were reports that overnight pro-Russia separatists, which Ukraine and NATO now consistently say are being reinforced by Russia, something the Kremlin is denying, retaliated in a mirror image of yesterday's shelling, attacking Ukrainian posts on the border with Russia and a military base, and tried to storm an airforce base, according to Reuters.
The fresh action came just hours after the start of a ceasefire at 10 p.m. on Friday by Ukrainian forces, ordered by President Petro Poroshenko as part of his plan to end the rebel insurgency in the east of the country.

A government forces spokesman said the separatists used mortars and sniper fire to attack Ukrainian posts at Izvareno and Uspenka on the border, wounding nine Ukrainian officers.

In other incidents, rebels with big caliber machine guns and grenade-launchers attacked a Ukrainian military position at Avdiyivka, near the main regional town of Donetsk, as well as a Ukrainian post at Kreminna.
As was clearly obvious from the beginning, there go any attempts at de-escalation.
But what is most surprising, is what happened next.
As Interfax reported a few hours ago, cited by Voice of Russia, Putin once again punked everyone, and certainly western ambitions for "peace" on its terms, when over 65,000 military servicemen and about 5,500 items of weapons and military hardware were unleashed in the latest surprise snap military drill in Russia, or as Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces called it an ongoing comprehensive surprise combat readiness test of the Russian Central Military District forces.
"Over 65,000 troops, about 5,500 weapon units and vehicles, over 180 planes, and about 60 helicopters will be involved in the test," Gerasimov said at a conference with the Russian Defense Ministry command staff on Saturday." The maneuvers are designed to test the training level of the troops in performing their duties through shooting practice, control exercises, the use of aircraft and airborne drops, Gerasimov said, Interfax reports.
RT further reports that all Russian forces in Siberia, the Urals and beyond have been put on combat-ready alert, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said after President Putin ordered surprise drills.
Russia’s troops in the Central Military District have been put on alert to verify troops’ combat-readiness during massive war games of all branches of the armed forces. The exercises involve the relocation of military personnel and hardware, firing training and complex inspections.
In accordance with president’s order, today starting from 11:00 Moscow time [07:00 GMT] all troops of the Central Military District have been placed in a state of full combat readiness," Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at staff meeting.
The drills will last for a week, from June 21 through 28, Shoigu said.
Up to 65,000 troops, along with 5,500 military vehicles, 180 airplanes and 60 helicopters will participate in the drills, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said, Interfax reported.
During the first 24 hours, the troops’ readiness for immediate deployment on a combat mission will be checked.
After that, military units will switch to tactical training, marching in battle formation to firing ranges for practice, Shoigu said.
Air Force units in the district will relocate planes to operational airfields to check their readiness for action in new locations.In particular, the 98th Airborne Division will be relocated from the Ivanovo Region of the Volga Federal District to the Urals for paratrooper jump exercises at the Chebarkul firing range. The minister specifically ordered units to avoid any possible damage to civilian installations and infrastructure during the military drills, and to ensure the safety of military personnel, arms and hardware.
The June 21-28 drill is the second stage of general exercises in the Central Military District, Shoigu said. A special commission has already verified the general situation in the district and now the war games will give the picture of combat readiness of the troops stationed on a swathe of huge territory from the Volga River through the Urals Mountains to Siberia, and from the Kara Sea in the Arctic to the steppe on Russia’s southern border with Kazakhstan.
Shoigu said that the 28th and 35th Motorized Brigades began the training June 20, when both units were put on alert ahead of the rest of the military forces in the region.
The Russian army has staged a number of military drills this year. The most recent exercises took place less than a fortnight ago, when on June 10 the Russian military launched drills by its assault forces in the enclave of Kaliningrad in answer to the double war games being conducted by joint NATO forces on the territory of the three Baltic States.
* * *
Ukraine was not happy: the country's foreign ministry promptly said that military activity with unclear task near Ukrainian border “doesn’t help to normalize the situation” and to implement peaceful initiatives. It added that the concentration of Russian armed forces near Ukrainian border causes "special concern in light of numerous” incidents of supply of weapons to militants in Luhansk and Donetsk regions from Russian territories."
Needless to say, Putin couldn't care less about the optics of the surprise drill, or if Ukraine's feelings were hurt.  Because just like that, whatever strategy the top brass from the Pentagon, CIA and to a lesser extent, Kiev, were planning on implementing has gone up in flame. Because what the drill really is, is a pretext for Russia to relocate troops on its territory under the watchful eye of countless US spy satellites.
So the next time NATO or Kerry slams Putin for once again piling troops at location X, Russia now has a 1 week alibi: "it was all just part of the drill."

Itar Tass......

More than 80 Ukrainian border guards crossed to Russia

 June 21, 9:01 UTC+4
They asked for shelter from pursuing armed persons
© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov
ROSTOV-ON-DON, June 21 (Itar-Tass) - More than 80 Ukrainian border guards crossed to Russia after the attack on Ukraine’s Izvarino checkpoint overnight. Two people were wounded, the head of the Rostov regional border guard department, Vasily Malayev, told Itar-Tass.
"Unidentified armed people on Friday attacked the Ukrainian checkpoint of Izvarino (named Donetsk on the Russian side). More than 80 Ukrainian border guards came from Izvarino to (the Russian station of) Donetsk at about 22:30 Moscow time and asked for shelter from pursuing armed persons. Two among the Ukrainian border guards were wounded. First aid was rendered to them," the Russian official said.
None among Russian border guards and civilians was hurt. The Russian side took additional border guard strengthening measures.
Earlier on Friday, another incident occurred on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Malayev said fighting started near the Ukrainian point of Dolzhansky (Novoshakhtinsk on the Russian side) at 18:40 Moscow time between militiamen who controlled the border and soldiers of Ukrainian armed forces or the National Guards.
The Russian station was also under fire, and a Russian customs officer was wounded at the site. He has undergone an operation, and there is no threat to his life. The border checkpoint stopped working.
Buildings, communication systems and other installations of Novoshakhtinsk were seriously damaged by mortar fire from the Ukrainian side.
Marks were seen on buildings from ammunition of various calibers and systems, Malayev said.

Self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic asks South Ossetia to recognise its independence

 June 21, 18:25 UTC+4
Earlier South Ossetia recognised the May referendum in the Lugansk Republic as legitimate
MOSCOW, June 21. /ITAR-TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) has officially asked South Ossetia to recognise its independence.
DNR Parliament Speaker Denis Pushilin presented the relevant letter to South Ossetia’s Embassy in Moscow on Saturday, June 21. The letter is addressed to South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov and Parliament Speaker Stanislav Kochiyev.
South Ossetian Ambassador to Russia Dmitry Medoyev told ITAR-TASS that the request would be transmitted to the leadership of his country right away.
“South Ossetia is ready to consider Donetsk’s appeal and make the decision without delay. The leadership and the people of South Ossetia condemn in the strongest possible terms the continuing punitive actions against the peaceful population and the civil war which the Kiev authorities are waging against the people in the region, as a result of which innocent people - women, the elderly and children - die,” he said.
Kochiyev said earlier that South Ossetia was ready to “make a constructive decision” on the matter as soon as it received the DNR’s request for recognition, just as it had done with regard to the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) this week.
The DNR intends to join the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia by the end of 2015 and create a union state with Russia by the end of 2017, sharing political, economic, cultural, and security systems with it, according to the programme of priority actions announced by DNR Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin.
On June 17, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov said his country had recognised the May referendum in the Lugansk People’s Republic as legitimate.
On June 18, he signed a decree recognising its independence and said South Ossetia was already negotiating the establishment of diplomatic relations with the LNR.
LNR Head Valery Bolotov said on June 19 that the republic was thankful to South Ossetia and personally to its President Tibilov “for the understanding of the situation in the LNR”.
“No one can understand us better than those who have lived through a war,” Bolotov said. “We are beginning negotiations on the establishment of diplomatic relations with South Ossetia and their formalisation in the relevant documents”.
On June 18, Tibilov signed a decree recognising the independence of the LNR.
The LNR has asked Russia and 14 other countries to recognise its independence. Similar requests have been sent to Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, China, Serbia, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

Rio Novosti......

US Imposes Sanctions Against Leaders of Self-Proclaimed Republics of Luhansk, Donetsk

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Denis Pushilin, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic
19:05 20/06/2014
Tags: sanctionsDonetskLuhanskUkraineUnited States
MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) – Washington has added seven high-ranking officials from the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk to its list of individuals subjected to asset freezes and travel bans, the US Treasury Department said on its website Friday.
The individuals included in the sanctions list are Donetsk People’s Republic military commander Igor Girkin, Vice Premier Andrey Purgin and Supreme Council chairman Denis Pushilin; former People’s Mayor of Slaviansk Vyacheslav Ponomaryov and Luhansk People’s Republic chief Valery Bolotov.
In addition, the US also imposed sanctions against Valery Kaurov, the leader of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine, and the acting Sevastopol governor Sergei Menyailo.
Earlier, the US imposed sanctions against several Russian officials following its reunification with Crimea, a former region of Ukraine that held a referendum in March in which 96 percent voted for integration with Russia.
The Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics declared themselves independent states following the May 11 referendum. The West refused to recognize the legitimacy of these decisions and backed Kiev government which launched a special operation against the independence supporters.

Russian Energy Minister Says No Further Gas Price Discounts to Ukraine

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak
17:40 20/06/2014
Tags: gasGazpromAlexander NovakUkraineRussia
MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak does not consider it possible to give more gas price discounts to Ukraine, according to his interview with Forbes magazine.
“No, I think,” the minister said answering a question on if Russia’s energy giant Gazprom would further discount its gas price to Kiev.
Ukraine’s demand for more discounts is odd, Novak added. "It's like you go to a store, take goods, use them as intended and then say: ‘I'll pay what I want.’ Have you seen something like that? Having this in mind, what is special about [introducing] a prepayment system?” the minister said.
Alexander Novak reiterated that Russia is not interested in further deteriorating the situation. "We do not want any escalation of the conflict, we do not want to be blamed for a situation in which Ukraine, because of its non-payment, is not getting gas and transit risks for gas deliveries to European consumers emerge," the Russian energy minister said.
Starting Monday, Gazprom was forced to enact a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine after talks on the new price and debt payments mediated by EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger failed.
Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia has been building since 2013, when the country found itself amid a deep political crisis. According to the latest estimates, Ukraine owes Russia $4.46 billion in unpaid bills, and has been running up more debt at a rate of some $1 billion per month.
The gas negotiations between Moscow and Kiev have largely been dominated by Ukraine trying to leverage reliance on its gas pipelines in the disagreement over price changes for imported Russian gas, effective April 1, when Moscow cancelled two major discounts, raising the price to $485 per thousand cubic meters.

Moscow says Russia's South Stream pipeline could run through Turkey

An employee of the state-owned Russian energy company Gazprom, located in Moscow, is seen at work. (Photo:Cihan)
June 20, 2014, Friday/ 16:54:46/ TODAY'S ZAMAN / ISTANBUL
Russia's controversial South Stream pipeline, which would transport natural gas to Europe via the Black Sea by the end of the decade, could run through Turkey, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters Thursday at the World Petroleum Congress in Moscow.
Russia could in theory consider Turkey as a route if ongoing problems with Bulgaria are not resolved. Novak said the Russian government would start negotiating with Turkey if Gazprom, the state energy company, considered Turkey an option.

Novak stated that he met with his Turkish counterpart, Taner Yıldız, regarding the recent energy crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

“We talked about the possible scenario where Ukraine does not pay its debts and stops importing gas from Russia. This scenario forces Turkey to evaluate the risks of getting 14 billion cubic meters [bcm] of Russian gas a year via Ukraine,” Novak said.

Earlier, Yıldız said that Turkey is hoping for a solution to the crisis between Russia and Ukraine as it affects Turkey's energy policies, too.

According to Gazprom, Ukraine's current debt stands at $4.4 billion.

The Ukraine crisis has intensified EU efforts to reduce energy dependency on Russia, while Moscow has long sought to curb its reliance on Ukraine as the main pipeline between Russia and Europe, its biggest market.

South Stream would carry around 60 bcm of gas a year to Europe by the end of the decade, enough to meet more than 10 percent of its annual demand.

First oil delivery from disputed Kurdish pipeline set for Israel

The SCF Altai tanker has anchored near Israel's Ashkelon port June 20, 2014. The tanker carrying pipeline Iraqi Kurdish crude oil did not arrive directly from Turkey's Ceyhan port, out of which Iraqi Kurdistan's pipeline oil is exported. (Photo: Reuters)
June 20, 2014, Friday/ 13:30:29/ REUTERS / LONDON
Iraqi Kurdistan looked set to unload its first cargo of disputed crude oil in Israel from its new pipeline after weeks of seeking an outlet as Iraq's central government has threatened legal action against any buyer.
The SCF Altai tanker was anchored near Israel's Ashkelon port early on Friday morning, ship tracking and industry sources said. The tanker is expected to dock early on Saturday, local sources said.

Securing the first sale of oil from its independent pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan is crucial for the Kurdish Regional Government as it seeks greater financial independence from war-torn Iraq.

But the new export route to Turkey, built to bypass Baghdad's federal pipeline system, has created a bitter dispute over oil sale rights between the central government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

The first tanker of its pipeline oil is still homeless after loading in May. After a false start sailing to the United States, the United Leadership tanker turned back towards Morocco, where it is anchored after local authorities refused to let it discharge for the Mohammedia refinery.

It was not clear whether the crude in the SCF Altai has been sold to a local refiner or was slated to discharge into storage, potentially for another destination.

"We do not comment on the origin of crude oil being imported by the private refineries in Israel," an Israeli energy ministry spokeswoman said.

The SCF Altai did not arrive directly from Ceyhan.

The United Emblem was the second tanker to load crude at Ceyhan from the KRG pipeline at the start of last week. It then made a ship-to-ship transfer near Malta to the SCF Altai, local shipping and market sources said and ship tracking showed.

Israeli refineries have taken Kurdish crude oil before but in small volumes, which were shipped to Turkish ports by truck. Some oil has also been stored there.

The KRG began exporting a small volume of its Taq Taq crude grade by truck to Turkey in early 2013 and then added another grade Shaikan at the start of this year.

Israel has less to lose than other U.S. or European refiners, because it has no contract for Iraqi oil. Iraq participates in the boycott of Israel along with many other Arab states.

Italy has warned traders and refineries about the legal risks of importing the oil. Large companies with oilfield interests in southern Iraq have stayed clear, although a joint refining venture by Rosneft and BP used a cargo of trucked oil in May.

The KRG's pipeline is currently pumping around 120,000 barrels per day to Ceyhan. The region's natural resources minister is aiming to export 400,000 bpd by year-end.